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Generation couch surfer?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  June 11, 2012 07:02 AM

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Given the dire financial plight many in Gen Y now find themselves in, the future of the real estate market looks pretty rocky.

Check out this Globe story that ran Sunday on the steep decline among homeowners and buyers in the crucial 25-34 age category.

Massachusetts has seen a 20 percent decline from 2005 to 2010 in young homeowners, who account for about a third of the market, the story notes, citing US Census figures.

In fact, just getting into the rental market, let alone buying a home, would be a big step up for many members of Gen Y, who have been driven back home to live with mom and dad in the face of a brutal economy intent on eating its young.

An incredible number of young men and women in the 18-34 age group are still living at home or have returned after college - it amounts to roughly 40 percent, according to a recent Pew survey.

The economy and the collapse of the housing bubble gets much of the blame in yesterday's Globe piece, but there is more too it then that.

If anything, home prices are still extravagantly high in Greater Boston, with some suburbs almost back to bubble years' levels and others having seen declines far short the big drops common elsewhere in the country.

It just takes a lot to get onto the first rung of the housing ladder in the Boston area - you have to be bringing in, individually or collectively, six figures to afford the median-priced home.

The median sale price in Middlesex Country, covering the western suburbs, stood at $354,000, year-to-date, in April, while Norfolk County weighed in at $333,500 and Suffolk at $277,500, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Expectations may be high as well on part of some Gen Y buyers - the Globe piece cites a couple in their late 20s who is holding out for a three bedroom so they won't have to move in five years when they start having kids.

Yet you'll have to pay more to get a home you can grow into - at least one that doesn't need major work.

Given Boston area prices, this is one of the toughest markets anywhere for young buyers to break into.

Are you in your twenties or early thirties and looking at buying a home? What's your experience right now?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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